Hanna Ellen Guttorm

(where 'ellen' in Finnish means 'if I'm not')


[x] The breath "wants" a form. "Write me!" One day it begs me, another day it threatens. "Are you going to write me or not?" It could have said: "Paint me." I tried. (Cixous 1992, 10.)

references, or sources of inspirations

Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway. Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham, London: Duke University Press. 

Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant matter: a political ecology of things. Durham & London: Duke University Press. 

Braidotti, R. (2013). The posthuman. Cambridge & Malden: Polity Press. De la Cadena, Marisol. 2015. Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice across Andean Worlds. Durham: Duke University Press.  


De la Cadena, Marisol & Blaser, Mario. 2018. The world of many worlds. Durham and London: Duke University Press.


Deleuze, G. (2004). Difference and repetition. (P. Patton, Trans.). London, New York: Continuum. (Original work published 1968.)


Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1994). What is philosophy? (G. Burchell & H. Tomlinson, Trans.). London, New York: Verso. (Original work published 1991.)

Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F. (2004). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism & schizophrenia. (B. Massumi, Trans.) London, New York: Continuum. (Original work published 1980.)   


I want to, I need to feel the Sámi land under my feet,

I want to learn the paths,

I want to sense the fell,

I want to get to know the fell, want to get to know Eana, the Earth, 

I want to hear, feel, see the wind, the reindeer, the birds, the plants, the waters,

I want to get to know them


In order to become whole

In order to decolonize myself, to decolonize the land

In order to tell stories, 

In order to invite others to sense her, Eana

(me in Guttorm, Kantonen & Kramvig 2019)

This is hard this writing. This is hard this academizing, living-thinking-becoming in the academy. In these constructions, which are so difficult to deconstruct. These constructions, which find their way into the Indigenous societies too. Which I take with me, which stay with me, stay with us, we stay with the trouble altogether (Haraway 2017). 

But coming to the story, or the intention why I write/do research:
And now it gets stuck.
The writing stops.

I hear the birds. I hear the fridge in the lobby. [11]  

writing in a hotel room, be(com)ing present in the (waiting of) writing, September 2017

Waiting for the following words to come. They will come, they will be here soon. 

This nomadic inquiry. This Life and Work and moving and flying in between the different geographical places and spaces, as well as in between the different discursive worlds. These mountains and flows, these hotel rooms and airplanes. These demands and tasks, these frustrations and confusions, these spirits and inspirations, these short moments of remembering-again, these opening spaces. 

This nomadic inquiry, towards something not yet known, always, yes. This nomadic inquiry, which sometimes makes me mad. Makes me desperate, when the words don't come. The words I need for a publication, The Measurement of the Academic Ability. The measurement which I so deeply so often hate. 

This waiting.

This nothing.

These waiting rooms. These wordless, silent rooms with opening and closing doors. No, these rooms are anything but silent. These noisy rooms, so full of concepts, and theories, and discourses, and statements. These noisy rooms, where I keep silent and wordless. These noisy rooms, where there is no space for any uncertainty. These noisy rooms, where the experts know and speak loudly.

This waiting. This not-publicing. This


.. belongs, is/was a necessity... maybe.. 

Is/was/is this always a necessity now? To not to write for a long time? After changing the academic work in-between different material-discursive spaces. After getting lost. After getting wondering, wondering again, and again. After first dreaming on and with the possibility to put the post theories and the Indigenous ways of thinking together. How, if so, is the development (understood in Western terms and measurements) of any named Indigenous society important? What is development? Didn’t we deconstruct development in and with the poststructuralist theories? 

But again, what is development? 

This nomadic inquiry, which I always-already wrote would happen and is happening in the moving and becoming circumstances and communities and spaces where I move and become (see Guttorm 2014, 2016), this nomadic inquiry really is going on. And it is not always easy to write it. It takes time, it means waiting, it means keeping silent and waiting for time to write, in order to find something to say on the struggled and muddle waters. And thus, this will intendedly not become any new knowledge, nor any documentation of some current situation or phenomenon, but more kind of an artist/research(er) struggling and thinking-aloud. And it has been a necessity to take time to walk and wonder, listen and get affected.

Dear Spirit, let me hold this spirit [9]

in order to take this small moment in the hotel room and this moment in other spaces later [and now, when I later write these notes to computer from the notebook]

in between and in the middle of the spaces little bit over the Earth,

now some 18 x 2,5 meters high from the ground of the Earth


waiting to become invited in

writing to become invited in

writing to become in and out


not an expert


from discourses to another ones

nomadic inquiry which may seem that I’m just going around myself

maybe I am

I am trying to situate myself

but it’s not that easy, it’s not identities, list of identities, these definitions, these statuses, these ethnicities/universities


I’m trying to feel whether/where the Earth is stable

I have many reasons to do so

I have had “feet off the ground” and I have hurt me


And just now two ropes are passing behind my window in the 18th floor 

from left to the right

they look like being off the ground

as they were sliding or hovering in the air

they were hovering in the air

attached somewhere up there 

and the gravitational force pulling them directly towards the Earth


this makes me think oh these constructions

layers over layers constructed 

like ontologies, discourses

layers over layers constructed, developed


towards what?

towards scientific development?

towards growing as human/ humankind 

towards seeing from an upper level

towards more space, towards created spaces

on one small piece of the Earth, over, over, and over 

until infinity, almost? 

still contact to the Earth – over and through each other [10]

and like this the words come

and I get moved

this is just the text I’ve been waiting to come

life is waiting

research is waiting

waiting for time to read

waiting for time to get into contact with the Earth

waiting for time to find time for forest and fell


waiting for the time / a contact / a connection / an invitation 

and staying here in-between

in the waiting room looking to/for/towards the possible doors

            to that direction or the other

            what’s behind that door

            what’s unfolding

            which door is opening


not-knowing as an expertise, yes, and no,

but something else   


and still flying unsettled here and there

flying north and south, north and south, and south and north

what do I do with/for the Earth

is that my (dis)connection to the Earth 

how many globes do we need for my flying?


where’s the Earth, where’s the connection

connection to the Earth

looking for something which always already was there 

the Earth, the connection to the Earth

being connected

we are

truly being connected


but knowing


quality – I especially hate that word


going round and round


not that but connection to the Earth

from here down, from here to the Earth

and through the Earth to all-the-others-on-the-Earth

            situating on the Earth


Earth-based ontologies

Earth-based onto


ontologies first were local, truly local

Aboriginals/First Nations/first human beings/our human ancestors had an ontology of and in and for their local multi-species living-with and connecting-with-the-Earth

no, they didn’t always survive (we neither, even though we’ve constructed these positivistic tested operations of all kind and fictionalized but truly mattering theories)

I don’t want to romanticize (we don’t have any romanticist time we neither)

it was hard 

and/but they had ceremonies

their conditions of living and dying were true life, true survival

it was not “natural”, it was, it just was/ happened/ became both possible and necessary

(I don’t know anything about it, no, I just try to imagine, how it was in the very beginning of these human beings, which later got a name Homo Sapiens)

why not Homo Sentious, I asked in my PhD and Juha Varto somewhere  

they were connecting and encountering in different ways, making assemblages

being born/ coming into being, growing, uniting, dying

eating, killing cross-species 


the word ontology consisting of the words onto and logy,

where “onto” comes from Greek and means ”being, that which is”

it was an onto, a being 

(in the veeeery beginning that was without logies, without words, that was, that is, that which is) 

Onto, that which is


How did that ‘onto’ become known, knowledge – when they, our human ancestors, learnt and shared what they learnt about being and life

How did that ‘onto’ become a world view – when they wondered and wanted to understand the world around them


Earth-connection-based knowledge, 

where some ceremonies united, some common/collaborative endeavors

knowledge remained locally Earth-based,

in connection/relation to and with the Earth, the local land

and Spirits were/are too

I still know so little, I’m a learner

Indigenous spirituality

“Indigenous spirituality derives from a philosophy that establishes the wholistic notion of the interconnectedness of the elements of the earth and the universe, animate and inanimate, whereby people, the plants and animals, landforms and celestial bodies are interrelated. How this interconnectedness exists and why it is important to keep all things in healthy interdependence is expressed and encoded in sacred stories or “myths.” These creation stories describe the shaping and developing of the world as people know and experience it through the activities of powerful creator ancestors. These ancestors created order out of chaos, form out of formlessness, life out of lifelessness and, as they did so, they established the ways in which all things should live so as to maintain order and sustainability.” (Grieves 2008, 363.)


Words don't come out

I sit here still

I press enter to the next row

I think on Margaret Somerville's words and turn my gaze to Earth again

what on earth happens

what happens on the Earth

Braidotti (2013) talks about Earth-based and Earth-centered subjectivity 

How are we connected to the Earth?

Even though we don’t feel and think and recognize it all the time, 

this something which is... 

We are inevitably connected to the Earth and all the possible others connected to the Earth

Staying with the trouble though

.. almost forgetting

almost forgetting the flow of writing,

when getting stuck 

like now

when no words more come out

when there is a break


there are no words


there’s only silence, emptiness


becoming an earthling, September 2018

an Earth

The Earth

this under my feet, under this house, outside the window, this HERE

this atmosphere, where I breath now

this our planet, which makes me think 

this planet with water and ground, land in different structures, colors, shapes, 

this constructed/changed// land

this land covered with different materials

this land covered

covered with and under these buildings, these roads, these corridors, these

still staying

still always there standing, no,

moving, circling in the Milky Way

this Earth, this third star from the Sun


it’s not Europe, America, Africa, Asia

(and it is – how we came to know on and about more… of the bigger picture, our wider connectiveness to those places and continents felt to be so far away, those wild and exotic, those totally strange and Other spaces, parts of this Earth..)

it’s not South and North, South and Arctic, 

and it is,

we name it so 

we name this covering of the Earth with our socio-culturally constructed names

which are so true, which become true, which divide us/those/lands from each other with the naming

but they became so true, that we almost think, that we almost forget, 

that it (THIS) is a one

a one Earth,

our Earth

our moving star

our breathing star

with which we breath,

with which we move and become


“We say that the Sun arises” (Deleuze 2005, 81)

But no 

we rotate, and we move around the Sun

all the time

this is not divided 

in itself 


Indigenous definitions focus on people, a group of people who lived on some area of the Earth before the borders came, 

borders between the states, 

those which we have created/struggled/fought/warred

oh, this is too big theme to take in a poem


Indigenous definitions focus on people, a group of people who lived on some area of the Earth before the outsider namings came, before the “civilized” people came, named, framed, borderlined, decided the words that word the worlds, for example the settlers in the US called the Natives as Indians and that naming remained


the settlers also decided the practices that affected the lives of Native people, even moved them away from their ancient living areas, the worlding of them didn’t matter, the written words became mattering, 


and still I write


I write from and within the moving microscopic mattering of Earth/energy of the Earth, which materialize in this body


this body, writing out of the body, writing the body, see Francis (2010/1992)


these matters:

skin – heart – blood – muscles – organism, where the heart

plays such a significant role

heart-h-e-a-r-t-h-e-a-r-t-h-earth – in English, ‘heart’ and ‘earth’ linking beautifully 


I once was presenting my thinking about the diversities and the problematics of naming and identity construction,

as well as the ways how I write [12]

One professor said to me

“must be hard”


“what kinds of politics could you do”


what kinds of politics

what on Earth?

Earth-based, solidarity-based, justice-to-come-based




Valo/Light, bless me from these discussions,

give me piece of land, no,

let me touch the Earth,

let me forget these discussions, these tired and tiring discussions 


Let me be an Earthling



writing with the earth, April 2019

When I now look back on the path -- the path which also got visualized between the body text and the side notes, and which led to the fell to lay down onto -- I need to wonder, why it has taken such a long time to publish this? (Why on Earth?) It also makes me willing to go back to those haecceities, to those moments in Tromsø, when having the feeling of not yet being 'there(/Indigenous) enough', not (yet) connected with the Earth, and asking what that could mean. It was that moment, which made me conscious of the remote, but always-already existing connection, made me conscious of the layers, where academia and Western civilization had lifted me, far away from a living relationship with the Earth. That moment also opened a flow of writing. 

During the years there came other promises and commitments to write and the first bursts of writing remained untouched, only read out aloud in some seminars. 

Still there was also that feeling of not yet being there. (Again) not knowing what to do with these texts, or where they would belong. Or if they were worth of publishing at all. Still they were the texts I wrote in order to write my way towards the Earth. 

Happily I have had wonderful writing companions, with whom the sense of academic pressure has also, thank you, Lea, Britt, and Aili, diminished, and we have continued writing with Indigenous ontologies, even invited Earth, Eana (in Northern Sámi), to be our narrator in our text (Guttorm et al, forthcoming). So, Eana has supported me and us, and I (have) learn(ed), am learning to listen to her. 

I think-feel-sense-hope-I-can-hold-this-knowing-with-the-hearth that I can (now/in the future) let the (academic) layers be less. That I don't need all those highly conceptualized words/ways to present this simple presence as the Earth, me as an Earthling, with the Earth. Now and again. 

Thank you, Eana, for the Life.

I don't know, where this path will take me, but I want to welcome it. And when there are more words needed, they will come. 



Now I’ve come down to Earth

I live-love in connection with the Earth, my love,

Words will follow

Just now I enjoy the breath

            The small movements

                        The silence

                        The wordlessness

Yesterday I wrote. Yesterday morning words started to flow to a notebook.  I started to write in the 18th floor in a hotel room in Tromsø. In the middle of a workshop of Indigenous methodologies arranged by my dear colleagues.

So, this article, this present(ation), this thought with reconnecting with the Earth, became possible and like this after and with that writing in that little moment. In the 18th floor as the ropes of a carrier (for someone to do something outside the building somewhere up) passed by my window, and made me think on the connection to the Earth and be(com)ing connected with the Earth. 

So happy that the flow found this little hole to become possible. To flow to these fingers and this keyboard. To these keys. 

thinking-writing number n, January 2018

no words, February 2018


What if we [1] were (not) us,

What if I [2] was (not) me, 

This thinking happens/creates/becomes in somewhere in this body (and not)

This body feels, affects, and gets affected with all and everything, 

This body (within) this Earth

This Earth (within) this body

Sometimes I get, or this body gets so tired with this anthropocentrism this academicentrism this 

What if we were Earth-centered with our human and more-than-human others, 

What if we cared for the Earth and breathed through and with the Earth, and loved the Earth and our more-than-human-others as well as our more-than-human(ist)-human-others more than we do... 

What if ... ... this was not too naïve... [3] 


This is not an introduction. This may be a disruption. 

A(nother) disruptive text to the canon of academic writing, in the safe space of artistic research. 

And minotarian English, again. [4]


This article plays and celebrates the coming to writing with the Earth, or getting to know her, to listen to her, as well as realizing the possibility of taking the interconnectedness with the Earth [5], the earthlingness of us, or in this case of myself, seriously.

Indigenous people are known as having near and sustainable connections with the Land/Earth at the areas which they inhabit. As a Sámi myself I nevertheless need to admit as not having learnt it in my childhood and youth. As an urban Sámi I have learnt the neoliberalist and modernist thinking too well.  So, in this autoethnographic emergent re-search and re-writing I’m am on a way of revitalizing the connection, that is reconnecting to and with the Earth (nature as being a Cartesian concept) again. This. Is. A huge project. A dream?

That means also recognizing or getting aware of the colonial [6] ways of knowledge building, finding the joy and courage to undo scientific writing. There nevertheless happen things in this text and the thoughts do not always hold under the titles, that is, under the different spaces to write. They leak into each other and the different themes pop up in different chapters. I could join in Henna-Riikka Halonen’s (2019, 8) words:

Mostly, I will interrupt, make mistakes and create a mess. I am not determined to arrive at a specific destination or a point, but I am determined to work from within, pushing towards the edges of my limits and against those systems that sur-round me. I will stumble upon things, and I will occasionally fall, but I will get up.

(this) something becoming possible

The beginning, the ‘introduction into’, already opened a wide space to move in this text. This text is born very slowly, during a long period of time. This text, which again is an endeavor in-between academia and art world. For me [7], writing in-between the spaces means writing without paying too much attention to the categories as any taken-for-granted spaces where I would need to choose (only) one. Already in many earlier texts of mine I have let my thinking-feeling-sensing-writing flow more kind of freely than only following and ‘conforming to the prevailing standards’ – as Borgdorff (2012, 167) writes - in the academic forum, where my roots (and qualification) are. This has become possible for me especially through reading and starting to live with post theories and Indigenous conceptualizations, which challenge the human and rationality centeredness of most Western thinking. E.g. Gilles Deleuze (e.g. 1995; Deleuze & Guattari 1994, 2004), Jacques Derrida (e.g. 1983, 2003), Michel Foucault (e.g. 2005, 2010), Rosi Braidotti (e.g. 2013), and Karen Barad (2007), to name some, have opened up spaces for affects and for challenging the norms of scientific writing, for writing that is unravelling the assumptions of ‘research’, even openly unfinished. On Indigenous conceptualizations I could mention Elina Helander-Renvall (2010), Shawn Wilson (2008; see also Wilson, Breen & Dupré 2019) and Robin Wall Kimmerer (2020), who all write with the deep understanding of relationality and reciprocity of all beings, beings including also rocks, mountains, Earth, and spirits. Especially Kimmerer (2020) writes about the need of texts, which go beyond the academic conventions and make the reader to feel and not only think. 


Coming to writing, this space for writing to come into life, gets inspired by Hélène Cixous and her Coming to Writing (1992), which I have read already for years ago. Cixous’s text has been living in me since the writing of my dissertation (Guttorm 2014). There are numerous quotes to make and I choose to assemble them around this text, as carrying this, or giving this wings to fly. [xxx, all those marked with kisses]

I seize in Hannula’s, Suoranta’s and Vadén’s (2014) idea on democracy of experiences, as well as methodological abundance. Thus, I am not following any method in writing about and within the experience of thinking-feeling-writing-becoming. Writing a text in academic/artistic world nevertheless also happens as a collaborative act with theorizations, discussions and other earlier endeavors by other (human-others) in those worlds, as well as experiences and experiments of this thisness, this ‘me’, this thinking-moving-doing-material-discursive entanglement of this body-mind-(in-the)-world, and these physical, mental, and even spiritual events around and inside of this ‘me’. 

During the best moments of my writing, I come to a space, where I let the words and sentences come and flow. I would almost like to say that I don’t construct them always consciously. In that sense I am not saying that my writing were poetry or lyrics, but writing which is permitted to come to the screen and paper without the intentions to hold inside of the borders of a text assumed to be either art (artistic) or science (scientific). It could maybe be described that my thinking has gotten squeezed or pressured through the rules, norms and conventions of academic writing and through a deep disaffection with them. My writing has become texts of getting lost (or found) in poetry, or post-poetry, discontinuous words and sentences. And I really don’t have a qualification for that.  This writing, which happens in haecceity, the individuality of the moment (Deleuze & Guattari 2004), this thisness, where the moment and the pressure and joy of life entangle,where the rules of writing are not anymore necessary to follow. 

(But, there are long brakes, silences, between the sentences, silences, which the reader cannot recognize. But when a sentence, a chapter, after a long, long brake comes, it can flow rapidly. But again, for an article, there is more time needed. And some texts may lay long in silence and in the darkness of the closed files.)

So, here we are, this is academia. This is university life. A piece of research and/or art can look like this. I feel privileged to have been able to follow the questions arising on my paths and to let them take me to the not-yet-known areas and issues, where I have always had a lot to learn, unlearn and wonder. Or, where I actually always arrive to a place not yet known. Where I always start in the middle, where I always encounter new or the same questions. As in life and in art, or as in life as art.

In addition to becoming possible, this may be also necessary, urging: As we now live in the middle of a planetary crisis, we do have plenty or actually we are overwhelmed with the knowledge on climate change and global warming and on the need to cut down our carbon dioxide emissions. The common or individual changes are nevertheless not highly convincing. We have lost the true feeling or meaning of being connected, we have lost the responsibility, we have lost reciprocity, we have lost gratitude (see also Kimmerer 2020; Guttorm, Kantonen, Kramvig & Pyhälä, forthcoming). This Earth will carry on, but will it continue carrying us?

We have gotten lost, we have become sick, like Isabelle Stengers (2017) says: 

Knowing that one is sick creates a sense of the possible. We don’t know what the strange adventure of the modern sciences could have been, or could yet be, but we know that doing ‘better’ what we are already in the habit of doing will not be sufficient for learning, It is a matter of unlearning an attitude or more or less cynical (‘realist’) resignation, and becoming sensitive once again to what we perhaps know, but only as in a dream. It is here that the word ‘slow’ is adequate. Speed demands and creates an insensitivity to everything that might slow things down: the frictions, the rubbing, the hesitations that make us feel we are not alone in the world. Slowing down means becoming capable of learning again, becoming acquainted with things again, reweaving the bounds of interdependency. It means thinking and imagining, and in the process creating relationships with others that are not those of capture. It means, therefore, creating among us and with others the kind of relation that works for sick people, people who need each other in order to learn - with others, from others, thanks to others - what a life worth living demands, and the knowledges that are worth being cultivated. (Stengers 2017, 70) 


I have also dreamed about becoming possible to do something else than write. And it has become possible. I have walked, I have touched the Earth. I have travelled, most often by train and car to Sápmi, I have walked with colleagues, relatives and friends, I have walked on the fells, walked on the paths of my ancestors, on the paths of the reindeer, following one path and letting it get lost in the mark, finding another again, for some steps... That’s how also the writing often goes... It follows a path for a short time, then it can get lost or disappear, in order to appear somewhere else again... I have also laid on the ground or in the river, touched the Earth literally, also naked. Sometimes I have written in the river bank, but mostly the experiences have just followed in my mind/body and I have then later in my mind travelled back to those places and written something. Or not. This text reveals some of the pressure to write and the time needed to take.  

Maybe, writing can be my gift to give back to the Earth (Kimmerer 2020)?

Other beings can fly, see at night, rip open trees with their claws, make maple syrup. What can human do? We may not have wings or leaves, but we humans do have words. Language is our gift and responsibility. (Kimmerer 2020, 347.)

Picture: Irja Seurujärvi-Kari

Deleuze, G. (1986). Nietzsche and philosophy. (H. Tomlinson, Trans.). London & New York: Continuum. (Original work published 1962.) 


Derrida, J. (1983). The principle of reason: The university in the eyes of its pupils. (Käänt. Catherine Porter & Edward P. Morris.) Diacritics 13 (3), 2–20. 


Derrida, J. (2003). Platonin apteekki ja muita kirjoituksia. T. Ikonen & J. Porttikivi (Eds.), (T. Ikonen et al., Trans.). Helsinki: Gaudeamus. (Original works published 1967–1972.)


Eather, A. (2019). Yuya Karrabura. The poem published posthumously in Youtube, available at


Foucault, M. (2005). Tiedon arkeologia. (T. Kilpeläinen, Trans.). Tampere: Vastapaino. (Original work published 1966.) 


Foucault, M. (2010). Sanat ja asiat: Eräs ihmistieteiden arkeologia. (M. Määttänen, Trans.) Tampere: Vastapaino. (Original work published 1967.)


Grieves, V. (2008). Aboriginal Spirituality: A Baseline For Indigenous Knowledges Development In Australia. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies XXVIII 2:363-398. 


Guttorm, H. (2014). Sommitelmia ja kiepsahduksia: Nomadisia kirjoituksia tutkimuksen tulemisesta (ja käsityön sukupuolisopimuksesta). [Assemblages and swing-arounds: Nomadic writings on the becoming of a research (and the gender agreement of craft)] Kasvatustieteellisiä tutkimuksia 252. Helsinki: Helsingin yliopisto. [] 


Guttorm, H.E. (2016). Assemblages and Swing-Arounds: Becoming a Dissertation, or Putting Poststructural Theories to Work in Research Writing. Qualitative Inquiry 22 (5), 353–364. 


Guttorm, H. (2018). Flying Beyond: Multiple Sáminesses and Be(com)ing Sámi. Reconceptualizing Educatonal Reseach Methodology 9 (1), 43-54. 


Guttorm, H., Kantonen, L., Kramvig, B., & Pyhälä, A. (forthcoming). Decolonized storying: Bringing Indigenous ontologies and care into the practices of research writing. In Pirjo K. Virtanen, Pigga Keskitalo & Torjer Olsen (eds.) Indigenous Research Methodologies in Sámi and Nordic Contexts. Brill Sense.


Hannula, M., Suoranta, J. & Vadén, T. (2003). Otsikko uusiksi: Taiteellisen tutkimuksen suuntaviivat. Tampere: 23°45.


Heiss, A. (2018) (Ed.). Growing up Aboriginal in Australia. Childhood stories of family, country and belonging. Carlton: Black Inc.





[1] I use the pronoun “we” in a very wide and most likely also a kind of messy way. We, the people of the Earth. In some sentences it may and may not include you while encountering the text inviting you to the we-talk. Sometimes this “we” refers more to us civilized, modernized, even though we were of Indigenous descent. 

[2] The pronoun “I” is even more complicated, but that’s the term we need to use when referring to the writer of the text, no matter, how (dis)connected to any stable “I” s/he would feel-know herself or himself to be.






[3] I love to follow Cixous (2008, 173) and write as a manifesto for naivety. 


[4] This article is not (yet) language checked, intendedly. In addition, the sentences and words are made messy in order to play with the meanings and let them float. You may thus need to read some of the sentences more than once and still be lost. The wonderful security of understanding is deconstructed in the choices of the writing practices too, see footnote 6. “[T]he becoming-minor of the major language.” (Deleuze & Guattari 2004/1980, 117; see also Guttorm 2018.)


[5] There is a huge body of research on re-conceptualizing and rethinking both human and non-human, as well as the interconnectedness of those from a non-anthropocentric view, and (re-) creating space for the wellbeing of the more-than-human in (us) all (Barad 2007; Braidotti 2013; Tsing 2015; Tsing, Swanson, Gan & Bubandt 2017; Bennett 2010; Kohn 2013, to mention some). Nevertheless, many of the Indigenous ontologies have never lost those perspectives, but recognize the multiple relationalities, as they always did (see eg. Kuokkanen 2009; Wilson 2008; de la Cadena 2015).


[6] Coloniality has remained as a central concern for non-Western epistemologies, including Indigenous ways of knowing and living, but during the long history of modernity and enlightenment also our bodies, feelings and so-called femininities – in us all – have been colonized. Last, but not least, the land has been colonized, we have truly taken more from the Earth than we need in order to build up what we now understand as welfare.


Both Indigenous philosophies and ontologies and new materialist and post humanist theories challenge the prevailing Western ontologies, but they come from different directions to do this. Indigenous ontologies have most often always been holistic and have not made difference between nature and culture, those words have not even existed before the political need to take those (Western and binarian) words in order to protect the rights of Indigenous people. 

[7] so, who/where/what is writing here?

I have multiple possibilities to share, who this ‘me’, who writes here, is -- something, which immediately has a question in it about the ‘where-ness’ of the ‘here’.  What is this ‘me’, this earthling, what are the conditions of possibilities of ‘hers’? (I wouldn’t like to use the gendering pronoun either, but I have not yet gotten used to ‘they’ either, even though that maybe would be nearest the ‘reality’, we are many, ‘me’ and the (earth) others in and around ‘me’, oh yes, I already wrote that. But just to make sure, there is that unease of identity, that willingness of getting rid of any identity category from which to think and write, with Braidotti (1994), and still simultaneously having one or two (blurring) identity categories from which to talk). I choose to tell something about my academic path and places where I have been wandering, as well as a bit about my Indigeneity. 

My academic background is in education and thus in the scientific university. Nevertheless, already during my PhD studies I started to feel uncomfortable with doing research and attempting to know better on and about others, even though my PhD research concerned discourses. So, my ethnographic research on the gender agreement of craft education turned to an ontological and methodological thinking-aloud on how I could (not) know and how, based on that (not) knowing, I ever could write. That happened especially, when I recognized my own desires, hopes and choices inconsistent and in a constant change. With the ‘permission’ of post theories, I started to do differently and make space for uncertainty, emotions, and bodily perceptions in my research writing, which slowly but without any other alternatives deterritorialized from the traditional academic ways of knowing and representing knowledge. And it became movements-towards-poems and love letters to the teachers and pupils I had been interviewing. (See Guttorm 2014, 2016.) I had no other possibility than to let that happen – as Elisabeth Adams St. Pierre (2004) writes, there is no way back after reading Deleuze and other poststructuralists. The poems or the movements-towards-poems came out, but so came the silence too. It took years until they got understood by the academic gatekeepers (and by me) ...

Research has then become for me thinking, sensing, feeling, and documenting from this moving and changing space of mine. I never more gather ‘data’ from somewhere ‘there’, but see myself in the middle of life, events, and discourses, in the middle of which I percept, sense, feel (e.g., inconvenience, enthusiasm), think, struggle, and write. And do not write but keep silent or without words emerging on the screen, therefore looking out of the window, listening to the wind or the fridge. Sometimes I call it nomadic, in philosophical sense, with Braidotti – ”kind of critical consciousness that resists settling into socially coded modes of thought and behavior” (Braidotti 1994, 5), which ”does not assume an over-arching concept of life, just practices and flows of becoming, complex assemblages and heterogenous relations”, where the ”vision of life as vitalist, self-organizing matter also allows the critical thinker to re-unite the different branches of philosophy, the sciences and the arts in a new alliance” (Braidotti 2013, 171). Quite often I call it post(structuralist) autoethnography following, for example, Bronwyn Davies and Susanne Gannon: 

The self both is and is not a fiction; is unified and transcendent and fragmented and always in process of being constituted, can be spoken of in realist ways and cannot; its voice can be claimed as authentic and there is no guarantee of authenticity. (Davies & Gannon 2006, 95)

Explicit and disruptive poststructural autoethnography.. deconstructive textual practices that represent and trouble the self at the same time. These autoethnographic performance texts will “circle ‘the truth’ with all kinds of signs, quotation marks, and brackets, to protect it from any form of fixation or conceptualisation” (Cixous, 1993, p. 6). These texts will invert binary categories such as emotional/rational, personal/theoretical, social/individual, and they will collapse these categories into one another without abandoning any of the frames available for thinking and being in the world. (Gannon 2006, 477)

And, that, what in my writing have come to happen, has brought me nearer to arts, or somewhere in-between academic research and art(istic research). But, still, actually, I don’t know whether I should talk about my (academic -- anyway writing happening in the context of scientific university, or at least affiliated in that world) writing approaching art or artistic writing or artistic research. Artist-researcher, anyway a researcher who have gotten invited to art universities to share about her writing...? Are there artistic processes or components as essential components in my research (see Borgdorff 2012, 24-25)? Would the poems be that, the texts which escape from the traditions of academic writing? Or, would the process of searching and re-searching for a more ‘authentic’ way to write with the always-incomplete thoughts bursting with the everything (the everything I mentioned all over in this text, the everything, the life full of its everything, with which ‘this’ researcher is not capable/willing of making cuts, that is defining a clear subject of study – there is so much in one life entangled) be an artistic process?


The painter does not paint on an empty canvas, and neither does the writer write on a blank page; but the page or canvas is already so covered with preexisting, preestablished clichés that it is first necessary to erase, to clean, to flatten, even to shred, so as to let in a breath from the chaos that brings us the vision. - - - Art indeed struggles with chaos, but it does so in order to bring forth a vision that illuminates it for an instant, a Sensation. (Deleuze & Guattari 1994, 204.)

As thinking further, most of science makes us to know something more, but most of science does not make us to feel, especially also because “scientists mostly convey [their] stories in a language that excludes readers” (Kimmerer 2020, 345). My writing struggles with the chaos, with the everything connected and entangled and an instant, after a long, long period of silence, comes out. A sensation, which is only one of all the possible varieties. Art or post-art coming to being in academia. Borgdorff (2013, 154) shares in a footnote about the debate between the discursive and the artistic, “whether the research process should be documented in writing and whether a verbal interpretation can be given of the research results. A third option is perhaps more interesting: a discursive approach to the research which does not take the place of the artistic ‘reasoning’, but instead ‘imitates’, suggests, or alludes to what is being ventured in the artistic research.” Implying this to my writing could mean that I do not need to describe or interpret, why or how the writing comes into being like it comes, while venturing to not-yet-known spaces of writing. The text itself, simultaneously as it does that, also suggests and alludes, how and why it happens. 

In addition to my academic background, or maybe even more relevant than that here, is my Indigeneity. I’m a Sámi [8], a member of the only recognized European Indigenous people, this one, in some cases ‘clear’, in some cases blurry, identity category.  My relationship to Sápmi was in my childhood based on yearly visits to my father’s home areas. Still, I never spoke the language nor learnt to fish or drive a boat in the heavy and fast-flowing river Teno (flows between Finland and Norway in the most northern border of these two states). I think we never even went to pick cloudberries or lingonberries – maybe we never were during that late time of the summer, or maybe we kids could not handle the swarms of mosquitos. Happily, later I have learnt Northern Sámi and been able to spend longer times in the lands of my ancestors. I’m on the way to learn these places with my heart, body and soul, to re-indigenize myself... But to get to know the lands personally takes time. 

As personal and academic paths entangle, I have had the possibility to work at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences for multiple years and then later in Indigenous studies at the University of Helsinki. During all the years I have had the happy and empowering privilege to hear and listen to many Indigenous sisters and brothers from Sápmi and other areas of the world. I have gotten very inspired by the powerful talks of responsibility to the Earth, to our Mother or Grandmother Earth. Those talks have been full of the knowledge of heart and thought as an ethical move. What kind of knowledge does make a difference and is worth being cultivated? And how does that knowledge become? How much time, timeless time, does it take to have that knowledge? Do we in the Western academies have time for that? The slowness so much needed?

[9] We had been talking about how important it is to be present in the field and in the research. And how doing research in/with Indigenous communities is about waiting to get invited in, especially when an outsider comes to the society. And I still feel I am halfly an outsider in my Indigenous society: I’ve been living outside the Sápmi area all my childhood and youth and adulthood, and still live. I got the feeling that it may be true that I have needed this time to come into the society, into the Indigenous institute, into the Sámi material-discursive practices, Sámi time-space-matterings. And that I have my becoming questions, I have those theories, those my dear ones, with which I move and come and become and live. With those I wait…

And I pray for the Spirit, the nameless/not-frozen-as-Christian-nor-as-any-other-God, but the Energy which non-questionably holds this all together and in movement – this Energy, which human beings name so differently and fight about the namings and the qualities of it – this Energy, which has different material and immaterial shapes and forms in the world...

[10] These illustrative thoughts in my head (oaivi in Northern Sámi, opinion oaivil) brought me an inspiration (oivallus in Finnish, thank you, Lea Kantonen, for recognizing and naming this) to think about Earth-based knowledge:     


Long before knowledge technology and universalist knowing – as seen it in a very simple way, in order to help us think on Earth-based knowing and the change of it – we can assume and interpret that knowing was local and Earth/land-based on all over the places on the Earth [Sketch 1]. Human beings are inhabitants of a certain place and know or have known, how to survive and live somewhat well in that land/area with all the other beings/species. Ontologies have been local, truly local. Aboriginals/First Nations/Indigenous peoples still have an ontology of and in and for their local multi-species, who are living with and connecting with the land/Earth – many Indigenous peoples still today call themselves as people of the land, and words like environmentnature, have come only later.

The knowledge has been locally embedded, but has started to get more and more layered and conceptualized, as it simultaneously in some cases has gone further away from the land itself. Later, it has been possible to build discourses and scientific laws, and so knowledge has been accumulated over each other and later it has become possible to build collective (Western and Euro-centric) layers of knowledge [Sketch 2]. The Indigenous land-based knowledges are continuously feeling the pressure, when it meets the Western world and its standards for knowledge.


When knowledge and discourse towers get high enough, the material-discursive concept-discipline-genre-clouds even enable to forget the Earth totally in some areas [Sketch 3]


And if we go back to the level of the globe, the whole Earth, we can still add one circle, the western, Euro-centric knowledge system, which once took over and conceptualized, universalized the knowledge of all the planet and its’ people and environments [Sketch 4]

Good heavens! As Shawn Wilson (2016) stated, neoliberalism can be seen as an over generational trauma of losing the connection with the land. This sentence of his keeps glowing in my mind, heart and soul after hearing it. We truly have created a world, an artificial world above the real life on Earth, a world, where we and the land are not feeling well. 





[x] Let yourself go! Let go of everything! Lose everything! Take to the air. Take to the open sea. Take to letters. Listen: nothing is found. Nothing is lost. Everything remains to be sought. Go, fly, swim, bound, descend, cross, love the unknown, love the uncertain, love what has not yet been seen, love no one, whom you are, whom you will be, leave yourself, shrug off the old lies, dare what you don't dare, it is there that you will take pleasure.... (Cixous 1992, 40.) 

[12] Many months later I thought-wrote:

Yes, what should the university do with this, what I, this me, is desiring to say? 

That I’m not sure, where this academic publishing (more and more) is going to take us.  

Is this real, is this making a change, do we start loving each other? Do we start caring the Earth? 

While people still have the possibility of  anticipating with fear and dread the unknown and odd (people, or ideas, like e.g. solidarity and sharing, which so easily become ideologies, which we easily name with old labels, which we then easily can judge because of the past abuses and despots), and while we love and honor democracy (and forget the complexity of power and knowledge connected to that), and while we, me too, always eagerly want to have more (money, power, and experiences, which are not often sustainable), and while the era of post-truth has made it possible to doubt science and suspect everybody’s intentions, it can sometimes be difficult to avoid losing hope. 

Still we need to try. Try harder, or maybe softer. This is our work. Our privileged labor in this world. 

[11] Some months, some moon-rounds later I add: “And my tongue is burning flames”, like Alice Eather, a bilingual teacher from Maningrida in Arnhem Land, Australia, wrote in her poem (Eather 2019, Heiss 2018). My tongue is burning flames, as I struggle with the Sámi identity politics in Finland and can hardly write or talk about it. My tongue is burning flames, when I see and hear things happening, which do not support the wellbeing of the Earth, widely spoken. When I get invited to places to talk as-an-identity-category and I don’t know how to speak. 

Kohn, E. (2013) How forests think – Toward an anthropology beyond the human. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press. 

Kuokkanen, R. (2009). Boaris dego eana: Eamiálbmogiid diehtu, filosofiijat ja dutkan. [As old as the earth: Indigenous peoples’ knowledge, philosophies and research.]  Karasjok: ČálliidLágádus.

Stengers, I. (2017). Another science is possible: A Manifesto for Slow Science. Cambridge & Medford: Polity Press. 

Tsing, A. L. (2015). The mushroom at the end of the world: On the possibility of life in capitalist ruins. Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press. 

Tsing, A.; Swanson, H.; Gan, E. & Bubandt, N. (2017) (eds.) Arts of living on a damaged planet: Ghosts of the Anthropocene. Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press.  

Wilson, S. (2008) Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods. Fernwood Publishing.


[x] Write? But if I wrote "I", who would it be? I could pass for "I" in daily life without knowing anything more about it, but write through knowing I-who, how could I have done that? I had no right. Wasn't writing the realm of the Truth? Isn't the Truth clear, distinct, and one? And I was blurry, several, simultaneous, impure. Give it up! (Cixous 1992, 29.)

[x] I have nothing to write except what I don't know. I am writing to you with my eyes closed. (Cixous 1992, 35.)

[x] No law. No grammar. Spelling once a month. No knowledge. Above all, no knowledge. Writing doplomas: none. Affiliations: none. Models: zero. The infinite. (Cixous 1992, 36.) 

[8] The Sámi people are the only recognized Indigenous people of Europe, inhabiting the specific areas of Northern Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia, called Sápmi in Northern Sámi. Sámi people do not live in extreme poverty and are not exposed to high levels of violence, like many Indigenous peoples in the post-colonial world, but have experienced different kinds of colonization and discrimination. The number of Sámi varies in different countries and according to different references. Sámi are said to be most numerous in Norway (around 50,000) and the least in Finland (some 10,000). In Sweden there are some 20,000. Nine Sámi languages are still spoken today.

When I talk about the area called Sápmi, I use the Sámi name. When I wish to refer to the lands and landscapes there, I use the concept Sámi lands.